Wednesday, July 11, 2018

JUNE BOOK REVIEW.

Well, it took me a hot minute before I could get my June Book Review posted but today's the day!  Better late than never, right?


This month's book selection made me so happy!  I read (yes, READ...as in my one actual book of the month) an Elin Hilderbrand novel which has now entered my top 5 favorite Elin books.  And then I listened to 4 others because...Audible junkie.  ;)  Have I mentioned lately how amazing audiobooks are?   Because they are.  Without them, I'd be lucky to read one book a month.  If you can check out audiobooks from your library, do it!  I can't figure out how to do this with mine but it would probably help to renew my library card (who has time to go down to the library just for that?!).  So I am a proud Audible member and freaking LOVE it.  I also love that I can "re-listen" to my books whenever I want because I do this a lot.

(UPDATE:  If you have been wanting to try Audible, NOW is the time!  This link will take you straight to an amazing deal...through July 17th!  Get a 3-month trial for just $4.95/month!  This means you'll get 1 "credit" each month where you can choose ANY book on Audible.  It's yours forever, even if you cancel.  You also have access to giant discounts on all the other books with your membership. I am a die-hard Audible fan and this is a great deal.  If you hate a book, you can even exchange it for a new one or get your credit back!  


So I'm going to start with one that I re-listened to this month because it was in my top 3 books for 2017.  And in all honesty, its one of my favorite books ever. 



I stumbled onto Kristan Higgins last summer and immediately told all my book-loving girlfriends they had to read this book!  I don't really know what makes me love this book so much more than other great chick-lit novels.  Maybe it's her tone or her writing style.  But after the first page or two, I just KNEW this would be such a good book.  It caught my attention from the get-go and just gave me those happy feels.

I am TERRIBLE at summarizing books so I'm just going to give you the Amazon version...

Letting go of her ex-husband is harder than wedding-dress designer Jenny Tate expected…especially since his new wife wants to be Jenny's new best friend. Needing closure, Jenny trades the Manhattan skyline for her hometown up the Hudson, where she'll start her own business and bask in her sister Rachel's picture-perfect family life…and maybe even find a little romance of her own with Leo, her downstairs neighbor, who's utterly irresistible and annoyingly distant at the same time. 

Rachel's idyllic marriage, however, is imploding after she discovers what looks like her husband's infidelity. She always thought she'd walk away in this situation but now she's wavering, much to Jenny's surprise. Rachel points to their parents' perfect marriage as a shining example of patience and forgiveness; but to protect her sister, Jenny may have to tarnish that memory—and their relationship­—and reveal a family secret she's been keeping since childhood. 

Both Rachel and Jenny will have to come to terms with the past and the present and find a way to help each other get what they want most of all.

When I say this book hooked me from the beginning, I meant it.  The opening scenes are Jenny delivering her ex-husband's new baby at the new wife's baby shower for goodness sake!  It's hilarious, dramatic and a little depressing.  Poor Jenny.

And then we meet Rachel, Jenny's sister, who stumbles upon a very dirty picture sent from an unknown number to her husband.  Yes, he's a cheating scumbag.

I really can't explain why I loved this book so much.  It was just so much fun to read. (Narration is great too you for you audiobookers.)  Something interesting was always happening.  From a hot landlord with a sad past to a guilty husband who you will just hate...this book brings it all with every page!  You will love the sisters dynamic, the adorable triplet nieces, the crazy mother-in-law of a new bride, and the romance.

It is an EXCELLENT summer pick, y'all.  And only $5.99 on Kindle!

And do yourself a favor and grab On Second Thought right after it.  It's a stand-alone book but it brings in several of the characters from this book and gives you just enough to see what they are up to now.  I'll be re-reading this one soon.

Find my original review from last summer HERE. (This is a great review post too if you need more summer ideas!  I have 14 books in that post.)


Yes yes yes yes.  Elin, you are a rockstar and it's just not summer without your books!


I grabbed The Island from my bookcase awhile back and it has been my go-to poolside read so far this summer.  

I don't have time to read a lot of actual books.  

Scratch that.  

I don't make time to read a lot of actual books.  

If I were to give up my nightly Bravo binging then yes, I would have time. But nothing relaxes me more than laying in my comfy bed and watching mindless television once the kids are upstairs and my brain usually can't handle anything more taxing than watching crazy women yell at each on national television.

So all of my "real" book reading comes when I'm by the pool after dinner with a cold glass of iced tea (or wine...who are we kidding?) or when I'm poolside with the boys.  I also read like a maniac when I'm on vacation.  #fourmoreweeks

Also, I ADORE my Kindle almost as much as my real books.  I just haven't needed it lately because I have a stash of books that have been given to me by my girlfriends who are passing them along.  (By the way, I have a certified refurbished Kindle Paperwhite and it's amazing.  Plus, it's only $69.99 as opposed to a new one for $119.99.  Just a tip in case you are in the market!)

But back to The Island.

Like all of Elin's books, this one had an idyllic beach setting, family dynamics, tragedy and romance.

This book was full of heart but was also heartbreaking.  Chess (a beautiful bride-to-be) cancels her lavish wedding to the perfect man from the perfect family.  I don't know how to say it without giving anything away but the repercussions of that decision are HUGE and devastating.  And only seem to compound as the book goes on.  We learn so much more about her decision to end the engagement and it is a doozie.

Her mother, sister, and aunt whisk her away to their family's beach house on Tuckernuck Island so she can get away from all of the events that followed the cancellation.  While Chess comes to terms with all of the upheaval in her life, her mom, Birdie, is falling deeper into her first relationship after her divorce from the girls' father.  Things seem magical and perfect...until they don't.

And Chess's sister, Tate, who has always felt so inferior to her beautiful older sister, is praying that the boy she loved as a teenager will finally notice her.  He's still on the island and is now working for the women during their month-long getaway to Tuckernuck.

This is one of my favorite Elin Hilderbrand novels.  Between the tragedies, the loves gone wrong, the forbidden love affair, and all the true love mingled in there, it is just a great read.


Elin came out with a new novel this summer and I could not wait to read it!  This one seemed to have a slightly different tone than some of her other lighter ones but I really loved it just the same.


This one involves a murder mystery and will have you guessing all the way until the end.  I kept thinking I'd figured it all out starting halfway through but then I'd second guess myself with an entirely new motive and suspect.

It's Nantucket wedding season, also known as summer.  The sight of a bride racing down Main Street is as common as the sun setting at Madaket Beach. The Otis-Winbury wedding promises to be an event to remember: the groom's wealthy parents have spared no expense to host a lavish ceremony at their oceanfront estate.


But it's going to be memorable for all the wrong reasons after tragedy strikes: a body is discovered in Nantucket Harbor just hours before the ceremony and everyone in the wedding party is suddenly a suspect. As Chief of Police Ed Kapenash interviews the bride, the groom, the groom's famous mystery-novelist mother, and even a member of his own family, he discovers that every wedding is a minefield-and no couple is perfect.   

I mean.  Give me a beachy murder mystery any day!

This is not a book that's going to give you all the happy feels but it WILL keep you intrigued and guessing like crazy as to who could have done it!  I recommend it for sure if you want a little bit of mystery mixed into your beach read.


These next two are my thrillers for the month.  Let's start with Then She Was Gone.

I think this was my first Lisa Jewell book but it certainly won't be my last! She has written a ton and from what I can tell, everyone loves them all!  I'm already trying to narrow down which one is going to come next.


Yes yes yes yes yes.

This book gave me chills, made me cringe, made me cry and broke my heart...but all in a good way.  haha

That's what you want in a good thriller, right?  I'm actually not sure if I would call this a thriller.  More of a missing person/Dateline type mystery.   But it's so much more than just that!

Here's the rundown:

Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.

And then she was gone.

Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a cafĂ©, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?

As a mother, this story is just my worst nightmare.  But when Laurel meets this man in the cafe it all snowballs.  I'm scared to say much because I don't want to give any hints or give anything away listening to this story unravel...the story of what happened to her beautiful daughter all of those years ago...will have you speeding through this one to figure it all out.

There were definitely times when I thought I had this one all figured out (as I tend to think...) and some parts I did and some I didn't.  So even if you think you know who did it or who so-and-so really is etc, you may be surprised!  

I did find myself a little annoyed a few times when Laurel (the mom) CLEARLY should have gone to the police when she began to unravel this mystery of who took her daughter and why.  It definitely bothered me that she never seemed to think to do that.  But that is really my only critique.

If you love a good Dateline episode, this is basically one of those but on steroids.  If this was a true story, it would be up there with Elizabeth Smart and Caylee Anthony.

Put it on your list, friends.

And finally...


I decided to take Reese Witherspoon's advice again this month and go with her Book Club pick, Something in the Water.  


It was a mix of that thriller/beach read that I apparently love and it was good!

Good.  Not great.  But good.

Summary:

If you could make one simple choice that would change your life forever, would you?
 
Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough and Mark is a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .
 
Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?
 
Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . .
 
Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?

Ok.  Let me start by saying that I really did like this book for the most part.  But the ridiculously dumb decisions that Erin makes over and over again had me wanting to scream.  She seemed very careless in making choices that could potentially get her killed...all in the name of money.

Mark starts out likable enough until he loses his job and starts to show some major jerk qualities.  So then I hated him too. Believe it or not, my favorite character was the mob boss who was starring in Erin's documentary.  He may have killed dozens of people but at least he was smart.  ;)

However.  It is a good book.  It will keep you turning pages.  It will keep you guessing.  And it has a dramatic (and dark) ending.  But I feel like it was missing that "gasp" moment where everything comes together and all the pieces fit and you finally figure out the puzzle.  I never felt like I understood everything the author was trying to piece together.  So I took off a star for that.

If I had to, I'd rate it a 3.8 out of 5.  :)


I hope you've gotten a few new books added to your list now but if not, you can check out ALL of my reviews under the "Bookworm" tab in my header (if you're on the desktop site) and if you're on your device, then just click "Menu" at the top of the page and you'll see the tabs there.  :)

Another easy way to find all of my book recs is to join my Facebook Group (here) and I've got my favorite books in an album pinned to the top.  You can quickly scan the album for anything that catches your eye and there is also a link to take you to it on Amazon if you want to read the summary, read reviews or grab it for yourself.

And one final thing!  

I'm working on adding all my favorites in my new Amazon store as well!  I haven't talked about this much yet but I'm kind of loving it.  As an Amazon affiliate, I'm able to create an Amazon store full of ALL of my favorite Amazon finds, all in one place, and even sort them into categories.  I've got a book category going right now so it's easy to find all of my favorites there anytime you want along with beauty, outdoor decor and games, home, kids stuff, etc.  

Stop by to check it out HERE!  It's kind of fun stocking it with all my favorites.  Fun and time-consuming.  Definitely a work-in-progress.  But from now on, anytime I mention an Amazon find that I'm loving, I'll add it to the store for easy reference.

Happy Wednesday, friends!

UPDATE:  I just decided that I'm going to start making my book review days link-ups as well.  I love reading other people's recommendations!  Throwing in a link up now even though I know I've given no previous warning.  But I'll post more about the next Book Review link up date soon so stay tuned!



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8 comments

  1. Book review posts always make me want to cancel that days plans and do nothing but read!!

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  2. I"m so glad you introduced me to Kristin Higgins books!!

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  3. What great books. I added a few to my list.
    I’m an Amazon Affliates, as well. I didn’t realize you can set up a store. I need to check that out. Thank you. I just followed you

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  4. You had me at "Dateline Thriller" because Dateline is my FAV. SHOW EVER. I love thrillers and crime novels. LOVE THEM. I liked Then She Was Gone. Fun book. I suggest Defending Jacob, you'd like it. I'm into audio books too. I listen on my way to and from work, errands and working out. Currently I'm listening to Imperfect Justice; Prosecuting Casey Anthony (because....Dateline like stuff!!!) and it's so so so so good. I was a bit obsessed with the case when it happened ten years ago, but man, to hear about all of the evidence and things that went on from the Prosecutor, wow!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have a great day.

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  5. I absolutely loved Then She Was Gone. Best suspense type book I've read in a while. Right now I'm listening to Something in the Water. It's good so far, but most reviews have been so-so like yours. Have a great week!

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  6. Anonymous11:45 AM

    Hi Amanda, where did you find that pineapple top in one of your insta photos?

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    Replies
    1. It was from the Blue Chic Boutique online! Looks like it is sold out right now. :( https://www.bluechicboutique.com/products/pineapple-tie-top-ivory-1

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  7. I big puffy heart book reviews! I’m a huge fan of Colleen Hoover..my faves being Confess and It Ends With Us. And now I’m off to order Then She Was Gone... I’m a Dateline, 20/20, mystery sucker!!

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